5 babies born, public tours back at Duke Lemur Center after 14-month shutdown

Destination Vacation

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — After being closed for over a year because of the pandemic, the Duke Lemur Center is back open to the public and is now offering limited guided tours.

The center is a wonderful spot to check out with family and friends and learn about the most endangered mammal on Earth.

Sara Clark, Duke Lemur Center director of communications, said there’s no place like their center in the world.

“We have more lemurs here at Duke than anywhere outside of Madagascar, which is where they’re native,” said Clark.

Unfortunately, the animals are critically endangered in Madagascar due to a variety of issues, such as poverty and development.

“If the worst happens, if we lose those species in Madagascar, we have these safety net populations here through the conservation breeding program,” said Clark.

The director of communications said scientists from around the world visit the Duke Lemur Center to conduct non-invasive research on the lemurs. A lot of the research is observational and does not harm the lemurs.

Clark said, “by coming, you support through your tour fee the work that the center does conservation breeding and conservation work in Madagascar.”

Lemurs are susceptible to COVID-19, so the center is taking safety precautions to prevent any spread of the illness to the animals. This means public tours are limited and masks are always required.

“All of those tour fees go right to supporting the Lemur Center so, food, veterinarian care, supporting the staff taking care of the animals, all of it goes back to the Lemur Center,” said Clark.

She said guided tours account for 20 percent of the center’s budget, which was greatly impacted during the pandemic. They are trying to bounce back safely and slowly.

“There are a couple of options for tours. You can choose virtual, or you can choose physical,” said Clark.

In-person tours include either the walking with lemur tour or the general tour. The walking with lemur tour allows you to walk in the woods with the animals. The lemurs do not bother you while you are around them in their environment.

“On the general tour, you actually see more species of Lemur, but you don’t get to go into the woods,” said Clark.

The tours are extra special right now because the Duke Lemur Center welcomed five babies in March and April. You will have the chance to see the baby lemurs while touring the center.

Tickets must be paid for online. They sell out fast, but keep in mind new weeks are released each Friday so keep checking.

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